Amazon has shown that it is “antithetical” to New York values, and the company should not be allowed to build its second headquarters in Queens until it changes its ways, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told CNBC on Monday.
Bramer, deputy leader of the 51-member council, said one reason he is against the HQ2 deal is because of the online shopping behemoth’s stance on labor unions.
“They remarkably came to the City Council last week and declared not only would they not remain neutral when it came to efforts of their employees … to organize but that they would actually fight to crush any effort of their employees to unionize,” the Queens borough representative said on “Squawk on the Street.” “This is a union town. I grew up in a union family. We’ve got to stand up for our values there.”
Bramer, a Democrat, also called out Amazon’s reported ties to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Some Amazon shareholders have urged the tech giant to stop selling Rekognition, its facial recognition technology, to some government agencies. They have also said that Amazon is planning to pitch the service to ICE.
“Obviously we’re a sanctuary city. The mayor and all of us have declared that we want to be a safe haven for all immigrants, including the undocumented,” Bramer said. “Amazon refuses to budge on that issue.”
The company has defended selling Rekognition to law enforcement.
Earlier Monday, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., told CNBC that New York needs Amazon’s presence so that it could become the tech center of the world. The 10-term Democratic lawmaker also said it’s an opportunity for the company to work with the community to ensure that it benefits Queens residents.
“We are a tech city and we are able to grow as a result of that,” he said. “But we also look at what some of the headaches have been in some other cities and so we have a chance to make sure that we fix that here.”
Bramer believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, also Democrats, “botched” the deal, which includes roughly $3 billion in tax incentives, to lure the Seattle-based company’s investment. The plan is to bring part of its second headquarters and 25,000 jobs to the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens.
“All of those reasons and more lead us to fight this deal because at the end of the day, it’s a bad deal for New York,” Bramer said.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that Amazon is reconsidering the New York development due to local opposition.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman firebrand who has been one of the most notable critics of the deal, welcomed news that Amazon could ditch the planned New York facility. The Queens/Bronx Democrat is worried the project could displace low-income and working-class families.
In response to the report, Cuomo said “we have to make Amazon a reality” in New York and that “it is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy.” He equated such opposition to “malpractice” because the headquarters would create so many jobs in the city.
De Blasio’s office has defended tax incentives offered by the city for the project, saying it could generate $12.5 billion in future tax revenues.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CNBC also reached out to de Blasio’s office for comment.